Shakur Stevenson became a three-weight world champion when he was awarded the WBC lightweight title after labouring to perhaps the least inspiring victory of his career, via a unanimous decision, over Edwin de los Santos.
At the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas he was awarded scores of 115-113, 116-112 and 116-112 from the three ringside judges, and while he added a lightweight title to those he had already won at super featherweight and featherweight, he will know that his reputation was more harmed than enhanced.
The combination of De Los Santos’ southpaw stance and lack of ambition on a night when Stevenson showed a similar reluctance to take risks or engage meant that the estimated 6,000 in attendance at a venue that can host 20,000 booed from the second round until the final bell.
If a cagey, tactical affair was perhaps to be expected, there remained cause to believe, during the competitive opening rounds, that their fight would yet evolve into something of greater substance.
Instead the 26-year-old Stevenson – whose friend Terence Crawford is among the many expecting him to prove Crawford’s successor as the world’s finest fighter – demonstrated a discipline that on other occasions will prove a strength but that against De Los Santos will have cost him fans.
He is blessed with speed, an admirable boxing IQ and one of the most natural skill sets of them all, but throughout the course of 12 tedious rounds rarely threw more than his quick and accurate jab.
There was a left to the body in the opening round, a right-left to the body in the eighth and a right to the body in the 10th. In the 11th there was also a strong right hand from close range, and a straight left in the 12th, but rarely the threat of anything else.
In the fifth round De Los Santos mocked running from Stevenson, in an attempt to suggest that that was how his opponent had to that point fought, but it was Stevenson who was doing enough to win most of the rounds and exchanges and, for all that the pressure was on Stevenson to deliver, De Los Santos appeared content to lose while absorbing minimal punishment and to allow Stevenson to take the blame.
By the fight’s equally dull conclusion, CompuBox reported that between them Stevenson and the 24-year-old De Los Santos, from the Dominican Republic, had landed a combined 33 power punches. Perhaps even more telling was that the 40 punches landed throughout the fight from De Los Santos represented a record low since Compubox’s inception 38 years ago.